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Home » Editorials » Trouble in Paradise: A Look At Kofi Kingston in WWE & How a Heel Turn Can Save His Career

Trouble in Paradise: A Look At Kofi Kingston in WWE & How a Heel Turn Can Save His Career

Kofi Kingston

Since his WWE debut on the ECW brand back in 2008, Kofi Kingston picked up a reputation for being one of the most promising stars for the company in the near future. He kept an undefeated streak — in singles matches — since his debut in January all the way through to May where he was beaten by Shelton Benjamin. He’s a multiple time Tag Team Champion, Intercontinental Champion, and United States Champion.

As of today, Kingston is 31 years of age. A world of difference compared to his age of 26 when he walked through the curtains as a Jamaican high-flyer on SyFy five years ago. Kingston will turn 32 this August.

Where did the time go on this dynamic star?

It’s simple: Kingston remained in midcard limbo for the majority of his WWE run with the closest he’s ever come to a main-event push by way of a feud with Randy Orton.

When you are left doing the same exact work you have been doing for half a decade, the days drop like leaves in Autumn.

To take a closer look at his gigantic push with Orton, we must retreat to late-2009, almost two years following his WWE debut.

At the inaugural Bragging Rights Pay-Per-View, Randy Orton was set to defend his WWE Championship against John Cena in a 60-minute Ironman Match held under No DQ rules. At one point, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase had come out to support their mentor Orton, that is until Kofi Kingston ran out with a steel chair in hand as the cavalry chasing out the second-generation wrestlers.

Orton would go on to lose that title match later blaming the loss directly on Kingston’s involvement at ringside. This naturally set up a feud between the two which reached a tantalizing level of excitement.

On one occasion, Kofi Kingston dumped paint all over a custom-made stock car of Randy Orton while also keying and roughing up the vehicle with a crowbar. It was a star-making performance as he was not some midcarder whose job was to cut cheesy promos. He showed emotion. People bought the bad blood and more importantly, they bought Kingston as a future title contender.

In November — the month following the vehicle angle — Kingston and Orton performed a brawl battling throughout the Madison Square Garden arena. To finish it off, Kingston did a Boom Drop off of a railing onto Orton through a table garnering a big response from the fans. Perhaps it was the New York crowd which helped make Kingston come off like a star on that show, but everything clicked and he was essentially set to one day feud over the WWE Championship.

At that point in his career he might not have been ready for that type of push, but the fans were ready.

Kingston and Orton would fight on opposite teams for Survivor Series that year which saw Kingston’s team emerge the victors. Kingston was the last man on his team as he eliminated Orton to take the win.

On a following RAW, Kingston and Orton faced off in a singles encounter which had Orton win with ease due to an earlier backstage assault by Rhodes and DiBiase.

A rematch the following week had Kingston going over Orton thanks to a fast-count assist by guest host Mark Cuban. The two would go on to have a rubber match at TLC 2009 with Orton taking the series 2-1 with a victory. The feud would continue for one final bout on the January 4th of RAW — coinciding with TNA’s live debut of Impact — which had Orton defeat Kingston to end the bad blood once and for all.

Kingston would remain relevant as he’d participate in the 2010 Elimination Chamber Match for the WWE Championship only to be eliminated by Sheamus. John Cena would go on to win the match and become the WWE Champion. His sixth run with the belt which ended as quickly as it began with Mr. McMahon awarding Batista with the title match as he quickly picked up the victory.

Since then, Kofi Kingston has floundered in the middle of the card picking up respectable runs with the Intercontinental and United States titles, as well as tag team title reigns alongside R-Truth and Evan Bourne.

Lately, Kofi Kingston has been used as an enhancement talent completely soiling his push with Randy Orton. His last title run — as Intercontinental Champion — ended in December of 2012 dropping the belt to Wade Barrett. Following that loss, Kingston would go on to win only seven matches out of 18 total matches including the 2013 Royal Rumble.

After a win over David Otunga on WWE Superstars in the final week of February this year, Kingston has spent March making both Dolph Ziggler and Mark Henry look good for their roles in the upcoming WrestleMania Pay-Per-View — an event Kingston has yet to be booked on.

Kingston has stagnated on the WWE roster, but he is not a lost cause for the most part. At 31, the naturally gifted athlete enters the prime of his career and will look to take advantage of nearly every opportunity the WWE throws at him to try to gain traction in the company.

One of those opportunities, rumored by the brunt of the dirtsheets lately, is a possible heel turn taking a full 180-degree turn from his entire WWE run where he had been a squeaky clean, high-flying babyface.

Could Kofi Kingston pull off being a heel?

I have the utmost confidence that he would do everything in his power to make the turn work. He’s underrated on the mic post-Jamaican accent and during the times he has shown seriousness, he looked like a guy who could take things to the next level both physically and emotionally.

A fine in-ring performer, he could be paired up with guys like John Cena, Chris Jericho and Daniel Bryan (assuming he turns into a babyface), hell, he could revisit his feud with Orton and create an entirely different dynamic from their last set of battles together.

There is a tremendous amount of potential that comes with Kofi Kingston turning heel. While it goes against nearly everything I’ve said up to this point, Kingston could remain a midcarder and still be fresh as a heel character. Now, the WWE should use the momentum he will undoubtedly garner while being a heel United States or Intercontinental Champion to then challenge for the World titles. If they leave him behind reverting back to the idea that he isn’t ready yet, then it’ll become clear that the problem falls on the company’s shoulders and not Kingston himself.

It is way too early to tell if a heel turn could position Kingston closer to a World Championship win from where he currently stands, however if he can make it work, there’s no reason to believe why it couldn’t help. To prevent his career from being written off as revolving around a guy who collected second-tier titles — titles the WWE has trouble making seem important — Kofi Kingston is in a now-or-never situation where he can either refresh his wrestling career by re-inventing himself or leave the WWE altogether and lend his skills to New Japan or TNA Wrestling.

I’ve written before about Wade Barrett being a superstar to watch in 2013; add Kofi Kingston to that list. The WWE will either do something with the man or continue to let him waste away as “the wrestler who never could”.

About Mizzy del Junco

21 years old and a long-time professional wrestling fan. Also into other sports including MMA. Writer of the Blade Job Newsletter. I'm left-handed. I like the color green. Support the indies and New Japan Pro Wrestling's iPPVs.
  • Brandon Roberts

    i think a heel turn would be great for him either a black militant or african warlord gimmick

  • SiD

    As long as Randy turns heel, I honestly don’t care. Sorry. -_-

  • DJ HUK

    And when he does turn heel, he should shave his head. Lose the dreadlocks, Rasta man, and stop being a boring cliche.

  • Eric

    Kofi’s like Cena to me. He’s stale, comfortable where he is, and has no character development. He’s the happy, always smiling, high-flyer. I feel that Kofi, with a little bit of edge, could be at least an upper-midcarder or a jobber to the stars

  • Kevin Berge

    As much as I make fun of Kofi mainly to annoy Ryan because he constantly annoys me by over-insulting Dolph Ziggler, I like the guy a lot. He’s a good wrestler and a passionate performer who is always willing to get out there and work. His main issue is that he simply doesn’t stand out enough in his stagnant role. As much as it’s not a bad thing to be a midcarder, it is a bad thing to be forgotten, and Kofi is becoming so invisible lately that he could have that happen to him.

    As you pointed out, Kofi had his big break against Randy Orton in what could have been a game changer of a feud. Sadly, for whatever reason (possibly as simple as forgetting the finish of a match), Kofi never was allowed to use that momentum builder despite what I felt was a successful trial in the upper echelon.

    What really makes me believe Kofi needs to turn heel has nothing to do with his past or his ability but a simple fact: the guy has never changed. Sure, he changed accents, but that’s it. His character has stayed the same. His in ring style has remained the same. His mic skills have fluctuated based on what kind of feud he’s in much like Cena as Kofi has shown a serious side that has led to surprisingly good and forgotten promos.

    Calling Kofi a “fine” in ring performer is a bit of a disservice to him. The guy can do almost anything in the ring just hasn’t got much of a chance to show it. Same goes for his mic skills to a lesser extent as he is a solid mic worker who rarely gets the chance to show that side of him. There is video online of him as a heel, and I’m sure he’s only improved on the mic since then. I have no doubt that he absolutely needs and deserves a heel turn especially in a WWE where everyone’s a face nowadays.

    Good article, while I feel more could be said, it’s a good look at the topic.

  • Magic Sean

    If only Kofi had stayed down for the punt……….Either way, still BITW.

  • Aces & Eights: Ryan

    I had typed out a long comment, logged into post it, then it disappeared. So, I’m going to summarize what I said;

    -I’m surprised you didn’t mention the “STUPID F*ING STUPID!” moment at end of of that #1 Contender’s match vs. Orton & Cena. Kofi stood up for the RKO instead of staying down for the punt, and he’s been in midcard hell ever since.

    -The car destruction promo showed Kofi can be pretty strong on the mic when he’s serious, in addition to other promos from that feud and even a little bit against The Miz last year. He’s not great on the mic, but he’s good enough to be in the upper midcard and sneak into the world title scene every now and then. And I prefer him to be a bit more grounded in the ring, so given these two things, i think he could work as a heel.

    -As for the gimmick, I think an R-Truth type heel (without the imaginary friend, please) or a higher educated suit wearing heel (he went to Boston College, so it may just work, and he wouldn’t be the stereotypical angry black man) could be gimmicks Kofi could pull off. He needs to turn heel, regain momentum, create a defined character for himself and then hopefully turn back into a face–this time far more edgy and over.

    Good article, Mizzy. Was really good for a guy still pretty new to the site.